In today’s social marketplace, businesses can no longer rely on traditional marketing to capture the attention of Millennial homebuyers. Millennials are digital natives, having entered their buying years during the evolution of a “participatory” economy, in which we engage in relationship with brands and professionals online with the expectation of two-way communication.
Many companies translate their traditional marketing practices to digital marketing by creating an online presence through websites and social media, but this translation is not sufficient.
Companies, and especially the individuals within those companies, must engage in communication with their customers to be successful.
Millennial consumers value less the companies they work with and more the individuals to whom they give their business. They want to know that the individual is someone they can trust and who will provide the greatest value to their purchasing process.
Millennials are skeptical of businesses and marketing, but most businesses don’t seem to know how to mitigate this issue. While many businesses are focused on their external branding and scale, Millennials rate the priority of this characteristic at 14 out of 15 given attributes measured by a recent Deloitte survey.
Not only does employee-level participation increase brand presence with a larger digital footprint than corporate strategy alone, but it also improves trust with the consumer. In the purchasing process, Millennials often research individuals online prior to interviewing them.
They will look to the individual employee’s social media presence and customer reviews - not the company’s.
Therefore, the participatory marketing approach is most successful when all customer-facing employees are participating through social media interactions, customer reviews, and mobile communication.
Many loan officers and Realtors are surprised when they find out that their potential customers are researching them online and looking at their social media profiles. Most are not equipped to be marketers and brand professionals in today’s participatory economy, and if businesses are not empowering them to be as such, the business is not prepared either.
The reality is that if your employees do not understand their customers’ communication preferences and are not utilizing social media to build a brand presence and engage with customers (or worse, they appear unprofessional online), the company is losing out on business.
Companies should provide the training and tools to empower their greatest assets, their employees, to build greater business in today’s marketplace.
Here is a list of “do’s and don’ts” that can be shared internally to provide a set of rules of engagement: (Click the link for a shareable PDF)
- Don't use social media to vent about your life or your business.
- Don't create separate social media profiles for business vs. professional. Your customers will find both of your profiles and realize you are not being transparent (not to mention this is a violation of Facebook's policy).
- Don't post sales messages. On occasion, you can post a call to action, but for the most part, social media is for authentic communication and building your brand. Sales messages can make you appear untrustworthy, rather than a relatable person.
- Don't post drunk photos or photos where you might appear drunk (i.e. you have a drink in your hand and you're sleepy).
- Don't use a selfie as your profile picture.
- Don’t make your profile private on Facebook. You will limit your opportunity for business as Millennials value transparency and want to know what kind of person you are. EXCEPTION: If you are going to share information you would not like public (which is highly discouraged), then make your profile private and/or create friend lists that allow you to share limited information publicly.
- Don’t post too often. You want your name to be associated with value, not noise.
- Don't be "braggy." Of course you should share your accomplishments and retweet praise, but make sure you appear humble and authentic in all of your communications.
- Do share content that is relevant to your buyers and demonstrate your expertise. While this shouldn't be the only thing you post, your expertise is part of who you are and your buyers should know that by looking at your profile and recent posts.
- Do use images on Facebook. Always share a link or an image when sharing content on Facebook.
- Do adjust your settings so that you approve tagged photos before they are public.
- Share authentic content that reflects your personal life in the community and at home (it doesn’t have to be all business).
- Do choose a username that people can find easily. Consider what name people will be most likely to search for.
- Do choose a profile picture that clearly shows your face.
- Do create a bio that shares the best information about you and your business. Include keywords and some personal interests.
- Do engage with your audience. Leave comments, post in groups, start conversations on Twitter. Social media is part of the "real world" now, so engage with the people on it!
- Do post a few times per week on most platforms and up to several times per day on Twitter (but always choose quality content over quantity of posts if needed).
- Bonus: Do ask your customers if you can take a photo of them at the closing table and share that photo on social media. Tag them in the post and create a celebratory moment they can share with all their friends and family (and create a marketing opportunity for you).
(Photo credit: GongTo-Shutterstock.com)